A number of factors have been shown to affect how surgeons are subjectively viewed, including their appearance in clinic. Patient preference for pediatric orthopaedic surgeon attire has not previously been studied, nor has its influence on initial perception of the surgeon.
At 5 pediatric regional sites across the United States, parents and patients presenting to the pediatric orthopaedic clinic were given anonymous surveys showing 8 photos of surgeons in different clinical dress including in business or scrub dress, each with or without white coat (WC). Subjects reported their demographics, single preferred photo, rated characteristics of the surgeons in each photo on a 5-point Likert scale, and answered specific questions on scrubs and WCs. The first consecutively completed 100 parent and 100 patient surveys were included from each site.
One thousand surveys were collected from patients (500) and parents (500). The majority felt a surgeon’s clinical dress would not affect how they are cared for (83%), and that it was ok to wear scrubs in clinic (90%). Overall, WC was preferred to those without no matter the age, but there was no difference between scrub and business choices. Of those stating a preference, woman in business and WC (24%) and woman in scrubs and WC (21%) were most selected, with the only geographic difference being the midwest’s preference for man in business and WC. Females were more likely to prefer women photographs (P<0.0001).
In general, pediatric orthopaedic patients and parents do not have a strong specific preference toward what their surgeon wears to clinic, including whether or not we are dressed in scrubs, but some initial biases exist. When asked to choose, the traditional WC worn over any attire is preferred, and female patients and parents uncover a preference for a surgeon of their own sex.
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